How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that need to be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.
Becoming a Plumber
Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber. It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced. Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings. They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems. These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers. A local Tuscaloosa AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Tuscaloosa AL plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice. Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program. Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night. The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
- Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made. Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level. A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
- Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber. Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued. There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business. Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.
As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master. As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Tuscaloosa AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate OptionsThere are several educational options available near Tuscaloosa AL to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber. As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college. The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete. An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education. There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature. When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors. Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive. State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale. However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden. So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.
Points to Ask Plumber Training Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Tuscaloosa AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates its licensing and then verify that it’s up to date.
How Long has the School been in Business? Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business. The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time. However, keep in mind that even the best of Tuscaloosa AL schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.
What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates? Ask the plumbing training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Plumber Trade School
Selecting the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.